Airlink looks for deals to fill SAA, Comair void

Airlink is in talks with several foreign airlines in a bid to broaden their regional footprint.

South Africa’s Airlink is in talks with several foreign airlines in a bid to broaden their regional  footprint in southern Africa as South African Airways and Comair remain grounded.

The discussions follow the lifting of travel restrictions following Covid-19 lockdowns, which have crippled the global travel sector. 

Airlink services 47 destinations in southern Africa and its CEO, Rodger Foster, said there were at least three major global airlines among the global top 10 who are in discussions with them for an interline agreement in addition to four African airlines. 

Rodger declined to name the airlines with which his company was in talks.

He confirmed that code sharing, under which two or more airlines market the same flight under different codes and interline freight arrangements, were also being discussed. The airline recently signed interline agreements with Middle Eastern majors Qatar Airways and Emirates and also has similar deals with British Airways, KLM, Air France and United Airlines.

Rodger said global airlines are also seeking agreements with other regional carriers as southern African nations reopen for international tourism and business travel.

Many of those regional routes would normally be operated by SAA and Comair, but both are under administration, and not likely to resume operations this year.

Rodger indicated that the void left by the two companies was quickly being filled. “When SAA and Comair come back, it will be a completely different market, with a different set of competitors (with) global strength,” he said.